By Ollie Irish
Name: Dave Mackay
Why so hard? When old men in the corners of old-men pubs say, “They don’t make ’em like that anymore”, take it as read that they are referring to Dave Mackay, a real man who never wore gloves, never waved an imaginary card at the ref, never tried to break an opponent’s leg, never appeared to feel pain. He was genuinely hard but he could also play, a lot, as 22 Scotland caps and an illustrious club career, notably for Hearts, Spurs and Brian Clough’s Derby, attest.
You are probably aware of the famous photo of Mackay and Billy Bremner. A snarling Mackay has his compatriot by the shirt. Why? The little Leeds irritant made the mistake of going for Dave’s dodgy left leg, which had been badly broken twice before. The look on Mackay’s face (not to mention the submissiveness of Bremner’s body language) sums up the essence of his hardness perfectly; you didn’t want to mess with Mackay because you knew he wasn’t playing for the cameras. Bremner near shat himself. We all cheered as the bully met his match.
Apparently Mackay doesn’t like that photo because it portrays him, unfairly, as a “Desperate Dan” bully. He never traded on his hard man reputation but opponents feared him nonetheless.